The study of reading a cup using tea leaves, coffee grounds, and even wine sediments. From the French word for cup; tasse. Also known as tasseomancy and tassology. Some believe that it works due to how a drinker influences a cup of tea while drinking it since, even subconsciously, we are thinking about something at all times. Others look at it as a form of clairvoyance called psychometry where you use inanimate objects to gain insight.
A History of Tea
Teas were introduced to the Western world in the 17th century from China to India, and then to Europe through the Dutch trading companies. It's supposed that tea reading began in China soon after tea's discovery by Emperor Shen Nun in 2800 BC. It was developed by monks who started with reading the cracks in bells to foretell the future. The origin story talks about a group of friends who sat down to enjoy a cup of tea while chatting. When done with their tea, one person noticed how the leaves formed pictures relating to their conversations. The way this happened is how many speculate the term "throwing cups" came about. Tea was almost always drank loosely, so you would have to throw out the remaining leaves before getting another cup. Unless you rinse it, there's almost always some residing afterwards, which should form pictographs that can be interpreted.
Unfortunately, soon after tea met Europe, the Tea Act was singed in England making the drink only accessible to the upper class since importing it was so expensive. This then turned the act of tasseography into a parlor trick. In the early 1800's, a Scottish botanist, Robert Fortune (haha!, the irony) was able to replicate the growing processes so that tea was more readily available to any and everyone. This attracted the traveling Romani into the parlors who would share their gifts of Fortune telling. The art and parlors even spilled into America arrive the first would war since it was cheap and fun.
We'll discuss how to use tea leaves in the next post, then move on to coffee and wine. You can join us on Instagram every Sunday to see our tea reviews and weekly cups.